Procurement models

  • Different procurement models have implications for the role of the architect and relationships between different stakeholders. The three main procurement models found on our case study projects are:
  • Design and Build and private finance initiatives (PFI), are common in the design of buildings for social care, particularly within the public sector. There is a perception that these contracts provide greater cost certainty, and the ‘transfer of risk’ to the building contractor or developer.
  • The use of Design and Build contracts has implications for architects’ role, as once the project is tendered to a building contractor, they may bring their own architect, rather than novating the original designing architect. This contributes to a division between ‘design architects’ and ‘delivery architects.’
  • The use of Design and Build and PFI models can create a distance between the architect (and design team more generally) and the commissioning client.
  • Competitive tendering is a common procurement method in the social care sector, yet there are a number of concerns about this method:
    • The lengthy time-scales of some competitive tender processes;
    • Limited opportunities for long term working relationships;
    • There can be an overemphasis on cost, leading to proposals that are unrealistically ambitious given the projected costs;
    • The competitive tender process can limit opportunities for user consultation in the early stages;
    • Small practices are less able to go through lengthy competitive tender processes, because it involves considerable unpaid work, and uncertainty of funding;
  • Architects suggest that Design and Build involves a trade-off between cost and quality, risk and control. But it can work effectively.
 icon-microphone Project architect

“…banks prefer Design and Build because of that cost certainty, so care providers, they’ve got to borrow money to build these and the banks say one of the conditions is a Design and Build contract, fixed price, so we’re going to lend you five million pounds. If it was detailed traditional construction it might cost 4.8 million pounds, but we’re prepared to pay that extra to have that cost certainty, because then we know where we are.”


 icon-eye Establishing positive working relationships (design and build)